Bound Brook junior Andrew Gombas has served something of an apprenticeship for the powerful Crusaders the last three seasons.
He spent the majority of last season at 170 pounds, getting time at 160 and even bumping up to 182. Gombas wound up third at 170 in District 18, going on to lose a 4-2 decision to Montgomery’s Anthony Cassar in a Region V consolation semifinal. Gombas was also at 170 pounds for the postseason as a freshman, losing to Franklin’s Ralph Normandia in the district consolation final.
The talk before this season was how Gombas would surely take advantage of dropping down to a more natural 152 pounds. He has won Somerset County and district tournament titles, and advanced to Friday’s region quarterfinals by beating Bridgewater-Raritan’s promising freshman Van Miller 3-2.
Semifinals and consolation quarterfinals begin at 10 a.m. today at the Hunterdon Central Fieldhouse with consolation finals at 2:30 p.m. and championship finals at 4 p.m. The top three finishers in each weight class move on to the NJSIAA State Tournament next Friday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
The third-seeded Gombas (21-10) was one of 11 Crusaders to advance to this morning’s semifinals. Though Miller was a sixth seed, the thought was that he was on the verge of finding a way to beat Gombas after losing to Gombas 3-2 in overtime in the county final, and 8-6 in last Saturday’s district final. But Gombas was able to find a way to beat Miller once more, setting up a semifinal with second-seeded Mike Ciavarro of North Hunterdon.
“We have had crazy matches every time, I never really saw myself as underdog, I always went into the match thinking I was more than capable of winning, the game plan was to go out and take more shots than I have done in the past,” Gombas said.
Miller got out to tie the match at 1-1 in the third period before Gombas scored a winning takedown. Now he is one win away from making it to Atlantic City.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little kid,” said Gombas, whose father Zoltan wrestled for coach George Reid at Bridgewater-Raritan East in the mid-1980s. “I have no problem of being under the radar a little bit (compared to some of his teammates). I really want to wrestle in matches like this.”
Bound Brook went 11-1 in the quarterfinals with defending state and region champ Craig De La Cruz (126) and defending region champ and state tournament fifth place winner Michael Johnson (285) both winning by major. Junior 160-pounder Josh Ugalde, a region runner-up at 152 last year and a sixth place state tournament place winner, earned his 100th career win by fall. Junior Sean Glasgow, who beat Lawrence star Gordon Wolf for the region title at 132 last season for East Brunswick before transferring to Bound Brook, advanced by beating Carteret’s Javier Gonzalez 10-3.
Bound Brook’s other returning runners-up Isaiah Soto (182) and Aaron Saavedra (195) advanced by major and fall. Senior 106-pounder Petey Limenza, fourth a year ago, won by major and will meet standout Hunterdon Central freshman Peter Nace in a semifinal. Bound Brook’s only setback came before the night began when freshman 120-pound top seed and Somerset County and District 18 champ Stephan Glasgow didn’t make weight.
Franklin senior 170-pounder Mike Fagg-Daves, a region OW at 130 pounds a freshman, beat Bound Brook senior Ryan Doerr 7-5. Daves also beat Doerr 5-0 for the county title in January and in last week’s district final. Daves, beaten 13-0 by East Brunswick great Jon Schleifer in last year’s 160-pound region final, will wrestle Hunterdon Central junior Joe Scerbo in a semifinal.
Ridge senior 182-pounder Cort Hotz (32-2) saw four of his teammates fall before he beat Old Bridge junior Mike Gargano 4-0. Hotz, hoping to become Ridge’s first state qualifier since 2008, will wrestle Delaware Valley’s unbeaten senior Kody Eichlin (29-0) in a semifinal. Eichlin beat Piscataway junior and District 19 champ Eti-ini Udott 4-1 in another quarterfinal. Eichlin beat Gargano 2-1 in a dual meet, which Hotz knew about.
“I was a little nervous about the quarterfinals because I knew he had only lost to Eichlin 2-1 and he (Gargano) had a build I really don’t like to wrestle, he’s long and I usually do better against kids who are more stocky,” said Hotz, a District 18 runnerup, now 33-2.
* Other quarterfinal bouts of note:
Hillsborough junior 132-pounder Jack Donnadio beat Bridgewater-Raritan sophomore Kyle Adams 5-0 and will wrestle Hunterdon Central top seed Dylan Nace, a third place region finisher last year, in a semifinal. Donnadio, who is 6-0 against Adams, 3-0 this year, trailed him 5-4 in last week’s District 18 semifinal. With seconds left, Adams was penalized a point for excessive celebrating, knotting it at 5-5. Donnadio wound up winning 7-5 in sudden victory.
Delaware Valley senior 285-pounder Marek Tomanek, fourth last year during an abbreviated season because of a football injury, won by fall and will meet Notre Dame junior Stefanos Karpontinis in a semifinal.